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19 July 2023

A true community programme still flourishing after eight years

With the final bell of the summer term soon to ring, we reflect on another year of the Newmarket Academy Godolphin Beacon Project (NAGBP).

The NAGBP was launched in September 2016 as part of a shared vision between Newmarket’s largest employer, Godolphin and the town’s only Secondary School to support and enrich the lives of young people in the local community. Back then the school was supporting around 660 young people and that number has swelled by over 150.

NAGBP at Newmarket Racecourse. Picture by Mark Westley

The joint venture between Racing to School, Godolphin and the Academy has two key goals: to expand the aspiration and ambition of every student in the school through presenting the diverse career pathways that exist for them; and to provide students with the tools required to pursue these ambitions.

This year, 29 events were staged across the year groups and in this last term trips to Rossdale’s Vets, Newmarket Racecourse’s Rowley Mile, East Anglian Air Ambulance, The Bedford Lodge Hotel, Ascot Racecourse and The British Racing School were highlights.

NAGBP trip to Rossdales. Picture by Mark Westley

 “We have had a fantastic summer term and the Beacon Project continues to get stronger with the support from Racing to School and Godolphin,” said Danielle Dawson from the Newmarket Academy.

 “Our students are incredibly lucky to have such insightful opportunities and it wouldn’t be possible without the amazing staff at Racing to School and Godolphin. I am really excited to see what new opportunities we can add to our already superb offer next academic year.”

One new element of this summer’s activities was a pupil exchange trip to Ireland back in March, organised by Godolphin. Eight Year 9 students took part in the programme that involved a three-day trip to Ireland, and there was a reciprocal visit for the Irish students. The NAGBP pupils were immersed in local culture with Irish lessons, as well as experiencing Irish dancing. They also had the chance to visit the Irish Racing Academy and Centre of Education (RACE). They also visited Godolphin’s Irish stud farm, Kildangan Stud and the Irish National Stud and Gardens. There was just enough time to squeeze in a visit to the iconic Croke Park, home of Gaelic Football, before heading back to Newmarket.

Irish exchange students visit Dalham Hall Stud. Picture by Mark Westley

During the home leg of the exchange, the eight Irish students began their trip by visiting Newmarket Academy and then went on a tour of Dalham Hall Stud. The Newmarket Pony Academy was also on their schedule, where they got to meet the ponies and learn all about welfare and horse care. A highlight was a trip to the Rowley Mile in Newmarket, where they took in two races and had the chance to present an award to the winning connections.

Irish exchange students visit Richard Spencer’s yard. Picture by Mark Westley

The annual NAGBP Careers Day is a crucial part of the programme and leading figures from within the industry travel to Newmarket to work with the pupils to hone their interview skills. The students benefitted from conversations with organisations such as Careers in Racing, The Racing Centre and Racing Together.

Mock interview workshop at Newmarket Academy. Picture by Mark Westley

Lucy Gurney, Community Engagement Manager for Racing Together said: ‘It’s so good to see young people expanding their skills in an interview setting with business people from a wide range of backgrounds. The students always make the most of the opportunity to understand the visitors’ roles and career paths and overcome any reluctance or shyness, working together with team mates to make a good impression. It helps when there is a great prize at the end for the best team!”

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